Sheffield Hatters legend dies leaving family superstars to carry on her legacy

Basketball legend Betty Codona has sadly died aged 83 after dedicating 60 years to inspiring thousands of basketball players across the world. 

The grandmother was titled the ‘Queen of Basketball’ by many after dedicating her life to women’s equality within sports.

The Sheffield Hatters coach founded the first women’s basketball club in 1961 and was later awarded an OBE for her services in sport in 1998. 

Betty receiving an award. Image credit: @hatters_bc Instagram

A spokesperson for Sheffield Hatters said: “Betty was a pioneer in women’s sport throughout her life and was honoured with an OBE for her services to basketball.

“Dedicating her time to the equality of not just basketball but all of women’s sport. Betty founded the first women’s basketball team in Sheffield which was formed over 60 years ago. 

“She has carried on her legacy in basketball through playing, coaching and even as the Chair of England Basketball.

During this time Betty’s family would like to thank everyone who has reached out to pay their respects. Over the coming weeks we hope to celebrate the life that Betty has lived and hope to inspire all who knew Betty to do the same.”

Betty started her sports career as a PE teacher and competed in the first National Cup Championship in 1965.

She subsequently delivered 40 separate pieces of silverware as head coach between 1989 and 2009, prior to moving on to work as the Chair of the club.

Betty and her team. Image credit: @hatters_bc Instagram

Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett told the British Basketball League: “Betty lived an amazingly full and productive life. Her passion, determination and selflessness in promoting and serving the sport, and in particular, women’s basketball, has been unparalleled in terms of its success and influence.

“She was one of a kind. Her spirit and generosity saw her contribute to the sport and her community in Sheffield over such a long period of time, positively impacting so many lives. She will be greatly missed but her fantastic legacy is rightly a huge source of pride form her family and the Hatters club and all of us in basketball.”

Betty’s basketball success did not stop at coaching.

Her two daughters Vanessa and Loraine both played to the highest level of basketball in England.

Betty and her family. Image credit: @hatters_bc Instagram

Vanessa went on to coach, representing Great Britain, and became a Commonwealth silver medallist.

Loraine champions junior basketball development across Yorkshire, organising school and club tournaments.

The pioneer was named an ‘Unsung Hero for Yorkshire’ by the BBC after her efforts to create a ‘bubble’ league for women’s basketball throughout the pandemic to help keep the club going throughout COVID.

Betty’s legacy will not only live on through her daughters but her three grandchildren as well.

Tyler is following in her footsteps as a coach within the Sheffield Hatters club.

Her other grandchild Georgia, is a star player for the Sheffield Hatters WBBL and GB representative.

And Quinn is carrying on her success internationally as a highly-touted prospect playing for Capo d’Orlando in Italy.

Betty winning an award. Image credit: @hatters_bc Instagram

Described by many who knew her as a force of nature, the inclusive and family environment Codona fostered within Hatters is something she was fiercely proud of and will remain stronger than ever.

The sport stood together this past weekend in recognition of her impressive accomplishments.

There were 24 seconds of applause before each game across the BBL, WBBL, and NBL, as British Basketball pauses to remember and respect a true great.

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